Job 42:4
You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak. I will question you, and you shall answer Me.'
Sermons
ContritionR. Green Job 42:1-6
Job's Answer and ConfessionE. Johnson Job 42:1-6
Job's Confession and RestorationS. G. Woodrow.Job 42:1-10
Job's Confession and RestorationD. J. Burrell, D. D.Job 42:1-10
Job's Confession and RestorationC. A. Dickinson.Job 42:1-10


It Consists of -

I. THE HUMBLE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S POWER. (Ver. 2.) God can do everything; and no "beginning," no germinating or budding thought, is hidden from him; he sees it alike in its origin, development, and end. Both the fearful forms of force in the animal life of nature, and the striking destinies of individual men, are constant proofs of the presence of him who governs the world in power and in justice.

II. AS ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HIS OWN IGNORANCE AND WEAKNESS. (Ver. 3.) Justly did God rebuke him in the question, "Who darkeneth counsel without understanding?" He has been passing judgment on matters he did not understand, drawing conclusions from imperfect premisses, dealing with things that are and must remain to us mysterious, as if they could be explained by the rules of a limited experience. [t is this haste, this childish impatience of suspense, which drives some into discontent and murmuring, others into unbelief and atheism. A haste to speak before our thought is ripe, a haste to judge before the materials of judgment are at hand, - these lead in human intercourse and in Divine relations to false positions, which must be sooner or later abandoned. But we see in Job -

III. THE EXPRESSION AND THE ACT OF PENITENT. (Vers. 4-6.) Quoting (ver. 4) the summons of Jehovah at the beginning of his discourses (Job 38:3 and Job 40:7), he gives the answer alone befitting and required. He had before heard of God, i.e. had had an indirect and imperfect acquaintance with God. There is a knowledge of God at second hand which is insufficient to bring us to the sense of our true relations to him (comp. Psalm 48:9). We hear about God from the sources of early instruction, parents, teachers, pulpits, and books, and yet may thus not be brought into personal communication with God. In contrast to this is the personal vision of God. Not with the eyes of the body, but with the deeper view of the mind - the intellectual intuition, the contemplation of the Invisible through his creative manifestations (Romans 1:19, 20). This immediate view of God produces at once a new view of sell. To see that God is infinite is to see that we are finite; to behold his perfection is to be sensible of our own imperfection; to acknowledge him to be in the right is to confess that our thoughts are wrong; to be amazed and enraptured with his glory is to loathe our own meanness. Yet these thoughts may exist in the mind, and yet be without result except that of conscious misery. But their tendency and their purpose are to produce repentance, as we see in the example of Job. And here we mark the traits of a true repentance. It is to" recall" the idle word, the impious thought; and it is to reverse the attitude of the mind from that of presumption and pride to that of submission and humility. So in dust and ashes, with pride abased, overcome by the Divine majesty, would Job offer those sacrifices which God does not despise (Psalm 51.). In returning to God he returns to his true spirit and attitude of patience. Out of this, by the provocation of his friends, he had allowed himself to be mused. But now hearing the rod, and who hath appointed it, kissing the hand that hath smitten, he waits in silence until the blessing of the Most High anew exalts the sincere penitent. - J.







So Job died, being old and full of days.
"Full of days." This form of speech, though not in common use amongst ourselves, is sufficiently familiar from our acquaintance with the language of Scripture (Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29; 1 Chronicles 23:1; 1 Chronicles 29:28). The propriety of this expression will not be questioned by those who have had even a moderate experience of human life — who are drawing near themselves to the term of their mortal existence; or who have seen their neighbours, each in his turn, relaxing his hold of life, worn out in mind and body, and at last "gathered to his people, being old and full of days." The expression implies —

1. A natural limit to our mortal life. A man may be said to die "full of days" when he has attained or passed the average duration of human life. It is only courtiers and flatterers who would dare to tell any man that they wish him to "live forever."

2. The failure of our natural powers, both of body and mind. Man is "fearfully and wonderfully made." All the parts of his constitution are accurately adjusted to each other, and to the work which they have to perform. The frame is constructed to last a certain time, and no longer. The wonder is, not that our natural powers and appetites should fail us at the last, but that they should serve us so long and so well as they do. Especially considering that we have not always used them well; sometimes imprudently, sometimes viciously, we have taxed them beyond their strength and worn out a machine which, if fairly used, would have performed twice the work that we have got out of it. But, whether well or ill used, it comes to the same thing in the end. Even while he lives, "man dieth and wasteth away." Every year that passes over the head of the old man, takes something from his remaining strength. His friends perceive it, if he does not himself. He stoops more than he did. He cannot walk as he used. His hearing or his eyesight is affected. The mind also partakes of the decay of the body. The memory drops her treasures. The judgment is dethroned from its seat. "Last scene of all...is second childishness and mere oblivion." Our aged friend is seen no more abroad. Even at home his infirmities continue to increase. At last he takes to his bed. There let us leave him; leave him in the hands of his Maker, and of that human love "strong as death," which will never quit his pillow so long as one office of affection remains unperformed.

3. Enough of anything is always better than too much. Fulness implies satiety. When a man has passed through all the stages of human life; has attained, in succession, the various objects and prizes which, at different periods in their course, men propose to themselves; has tasted of every kind of gratification which came in his way; has performed all the duties which belonged to his station and condition; has had his full share of the troubles and disappointments of life; has lived out his appointed time upon earth, and "accomplished, as an hireling, his day"; is it not a natural feeling which prompts him to say, "I would not live alway; let me alone, for my days are vanity"? Perhaps there is something yet unattained; some object for which he would wish to be spared a little longer. But when that is happily accomplished, what more has he to live for? But when we see aged persons planning fresh schemes, and proposing to themselves new objects, to the very verge of life as keen in the pursuit of wealth, pleasure, or honour, as if they were just beginning to live, or as if they were to live always — more like hungry guests sitting down to table, than full ones rising up from it — is there not something unnatural and almost shocking in such a perversion of feeling? Will such persons ever be "full of days"? ever have played out their part? ever retire with dignity from that post of life which they are no longer able with dignity to tread?

4. We Christians will never consent to call any man "full of days" merely because he has attained to a good old age, or because he is worn out in body and mind, or even because he has had enough of life and desires no more of it. We ask, not only whether he is willing, but whether he is prepared to die? Is his soul "full of days" — weary of her protracted sojourn in this land in which she is a stranger, and longing to enter upon a new, separate, and eternal state of being? We shall better be able to answer this question if we consider what constitutes preparation for death, in the Christian view of it. In this view, then, a man may be said to be "full of days" —(1) When he has finished the work which God has given him to do. Has he been diligent in the business of his station, whatever that station may have been? Has he "provided for his own," for all who are in any way connected with him or dependent on him? Has he discharged all his social and relative duties? Has he "served his generation according to the will of God"? Has he made the most of those abilities and opportunities which he has enjoyed for doing good, for promoting the happiness or alleviating the misery of his fellow creatures? Has he endeavoured, both by his influence and example, to discountenance wickedness and vice, and to advance the cause of true religion and virtue in the world? And, lastly, does he take no merit, and claim no reward for his best services? not expecting to be thanked because he has done a few of the things that were commanded him; but even though he should have done all, ever ready to confess, "I am an unprofitable servant; I have done that which was my duty to do"?(2) But preparation for death, in the Christian view of it, implies also a certain disposition of the soul in relation to God. Though we know little of the state of the soul after death, both reason and Scripture inform us that it enters into a nearer and closer connection with the Almighty than it was capable of while yet in the body. This is variously expressed by its "returning to God who gave it," appearing before God, meeting or seeing God. And we have an instinctive feeling, that whenever our souls shall depart from the body, they will, in some inconceivable manner, be brought into an immediate communication with the Author of their being, the God of the spirits of all flesh. For this event we ought to be training and fashioning our inner man from the beginning of our days to the end of them. And every man is "full of days" and prepared to die exactly in proportion to the progress he has made in this spiritual work, to the degree in which his soul is alive to and in communion with his God. This inward religion or life in the soul is, in fact, the great business of our lives. All the ordinances of religion, and all the exercises of devotion, have this end in view — to make the soul more and more independent of the body with which it is associated and the world in which it is placed, so that finally it may be able to exist in a state of separation from both. Who, then, can look upon a hoary head and a bent body without asking, What is the state of the soul which is enclosed in that venerable frame? Is that also chilled with age? Does that look downwards to the earth, and move slowly and feebly towards God? The body, we see, has done its work; has the inner man been equally active and diligent in those labours which are proper to it? Is this "old man, and full of days," also full of faith, full of prayer, overflowing with those holy affections and heavenward aspirations which are the fruits of faith and prayer? Has he lived all his life and all his days near to God, and has he regarded every event in his life and every addition to his days as a call to live still nearer, a warning voice saying to him, "Draw nigh to Me, and I will draw nigh to you"? And in the contemplation of that event, which cannot be far off, when his body "shall return to the earth as it was, and his spirit shall return unto God who gave it," is he able to say, "I have set God always before me; for He is on my right hand"? etc.(3) There is one other qualification, without which let no Christian be called "full of days," or "prepared to meet his God." Does our aged friend, "being justified by faith," enjoy "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"? The saddest sight of all is the unconverted old man, the Christian in name, but in everything that belongs to Christian faith and Christian hope, incurable, ignorant, or irremediably reprobate. There can be no more momentous inquiry respecting the condition of any aged person than this — Has he made his peace with God? Does he believe in Him whom He hath sent? This is "fulness of days" in the highest and Christian sense of the words. This is not a mere weariness of life, a distaste for those duties which we can no longer perform, and those pleasures which we can no longer enjoy; but a deliberate conviction, shared alike by our reason and our feelings, that we are going to a better place — to a place where we shall be far happier than we now are, or have ever been; to a place where, in the presence and at the right hand of God, we shall find fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.

(Frederick Field, LL. D.)

Homilist.
Note the following facts —

1. The unconquerable force of an unselfish religion. Job loved the right for its own sake. His religion was not a means to an end; but the end itself, the centre of his affections, and the spring of his activities. A sublimer force is not found in the creation of God than the force of genuine religion.

2. The comparative worthlessness of theological controversy. This lengthened and often excited talk led to no satisfactory solution of the difficulties connected with the Divine procedure. Neither party was convinced of its mistakes.

3. The absurdity of boasting of the march of intellect. In mental and moral culture, what are we superior to the men who figure on the pages of this wonderful book?

4. The impropriety of deeming all outside the Gospel as morally worthless and lost. Conventional Christianity and missionary theology do this. They depict all the teeming millions of heathendom as without virtue, doomed to irremediable ruin. But here we find men who had no written revelation, no Gospel, not only theologically and ethically enlightened, but highly moral and profoundly religious.

5. The egregious folly of estimating man's moral character by his external circumstances. This is what the friends of Job did, and this is what men have been prone to do in every age.

6. To attempt to comfort the afflicted by discussion is to the last degree unwise.

7. A man may have many imperfections of character, and yet be good in the sight of God. Job was not a "perfect" man, but a genuinely good man. Men are to be judged, not by their imperfections, but by their "fruits."

8. With the fact that a righteous life will ultimately be victorious. Job's was a righteous life. And God blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning.

(Homilist.)

This history gives us much information with respect to Divine providence; warns us against uncharitably censuring our brethren, or judging of their piety by outward circumstances; presents the strongest consolations to the afflicted, the tempted, and the oppressed; and teaches us the benefit and duty of relying upon God, even in the most disastrous circumstances. Job's piety was manifested in all his conduct. He did not forget the wants of the poor, and the woes of the destitute. Instead of indulging bitter and malignant passions, truth and justice ever directed him, and the fear of God Most High restrained him from all profane wishes against others. His whole conduct was a living comment on that solemn direction given many centuries after by the apostle Paul to Timothy, "Charge them that are rich in this world," etc. Satan accusing Job of serving God only through mercenary principles, and from a desire of promoting his own interests, the Lord permits this evil spirit to deprive him of all his possessions, that his sincerity might thereby be tested. It is in trials and spiritual contests that the reality and degree of the Christian soldier's graces are manifested. Satan was defeated, for "in all this did not Job sin with his lips." Surrounded by calamities, yet displaying the power of Divine grace, the firmness of religious principle!

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.
This Psalm seems to have been placed first in the collection because, from its general character and subject, it formed a suitable introduction to the rest. It treats of the blessedness of the righteous and the misery of the wicked, topics which constantly recur in the Psalms, but it treats of them as if all experience pointed only in one direction. The moral problem which, in other Psalms, troubles the ancient poets of Israel, when they see the evil prospering and the good oppressed, has here no place. The poet rests calmly in the truth that it is well with the righteous. He is not vexed with those passionate questionings of heart which meet us in such Psalms as the 37th and 73rd. Hence we may probably conclude that his lot was cast in happier and more peaceful times. The close of the Psalm is, however, as Ewald remarks, truly prophetical, perpetually in force, and consequently descriptive of what is to be expected at all times in the course of the world's history. In style the Psalm is simple and clear. In form it is little more than the expansion of a proverb.

(J. J. Stewart Perowne, B. D.)

Ver. 1. Teacheth a godly man.

1. To beware of the ungodly man's persuasions;

2. Of their order of life; and,

3. Of their society and company keeping.Ver. 2. Teacheth him by the contrary what he must do.

1. Take delight and pleasure in God's Word; because we do hardly profit by those things which we take no pleasure in;

2. Use all the means whereby we may be builded up in knowledge; for so generally do I take these words, "meditate day and night."Ver. 3. A promise annexed for our better encouragement, which expresseth God's wonderful goodness, and our dulness and heaviness, that have need of such spurs. By which also we may see the right use of God's promises, namely, to provoke us to all well-doings (1 Corinthians 7:1).Ver. 4. Doth not only contain judgments against the wicked, but also teacheth, yea, spurreth forward the godly, by beholding their punishments, to more heedy walking; and whereas the Holy Ghost resembleth the wicked to chaff tossed before the wind, it teaches us, that though the wicked think themselves glorious, and of long continuance, yet they are neither the one nor the other.Ver. 5. Teacheth that God, with His fan, will make a separation between the good corn and the chaff (Matthew 3:12).Ver. 6. Teacheth this, that God is the only judge to allow and disallow; men must not therefore stand upon themselves, or other men's judgments. For what are we that condemn another man's servant? He standeth or faileth to his own master.

(Thomas Wilcocks.)

The Prophet will maintain a godly man, against all comers, to be the only Jason, for winning the golden fleece of blessedness the other, that he will make it good upon the heads of all the wicked; that howsoever they make a show in the world of being happy, yet they of all men are most miserable.

(Sir Richard Baker.)

Happiness is our nature's end and aim, and David tells us here who finds it. He describes his character —

I. NEGATIVELY. But all this is negative; and in a world such as this, and with a nature such as ours, no small part of religion consists in avoiding evil. Still, a negative religion is not sufficient. God's Word is, Cease to do evil, learn to do well. A man may "not swear," but does he "pray"? He may not rob, but does he relieve the poor? Therefore we have the blessed man described —

II. POSITIVELY. "His delight," etc. It is so, whether the law be the moral law or the Word of God. Much more may we say this who have the complete Bible. Day and night, our thoughts ever follow our affections.

(W. Jay.)

1. He is set forth as a "man." Sin un-mans, reduces the volume and value of manhood, until it brings its victim to a revolting animalism. The Christian is restored by grace to true manhood.

2. As a "happy man." Happiness is the flower and fruit of piety. Misery, the natural child of sin. None are so happy as those whom God makes happy.

3. As avoiding unholy society. As oil will not mix with water, light cannot co-exist with darkness, so piety cannot live in the poisonous atmosphere of evil-doers. Where there is no affinity of nature there can be no sympathy and fellowship of spirit. The tropical plant will quickly die at the roots in the Arctic region; and the saint cannot pass over to the frigid zone of the worldling's society, but at the peril of his sainthood — his life.

4. As a student of Divine truth. Religion makes men thoughtful. He is a glad student. "His delight is in"; a diligent student. "Day and night." It is not a nine days' spell which novelty has thrown over him. He meditates ill it in the "day" of prosperity, and does not forget to do so in the "night" of adversity.

5. Under a beautiful and suggestive figure. "Like a tree." He does not grow up a Christian, he is planted as such. Religion is not natural, but engendered: — He is well positioned. "By the rivers of water." As a consequence he is "fruitful." No fruit in the life is a proof of no grace in the heart. He is always in "season." "There are special times for the manifestation of suitable graces. Liberality when riches increase. Humility when cheered by others. Patience in suffering. Resignation in bereavement. Faith in trial." He is "evergreen." "His leaf also shall not wither." The beauty of the believer is holiness, the communicated "beauty of the Lord our God." The sap of grace is always in circulation, hence his leaf does not wither.

6. Prosperous in all his undertakings. "There is no lack to them that walk uprightly. Godliness is great gain."

7. As divinely known. "Knoweth the way of the righteous" (ver. 6). His knowledge covers the minutiae of his life as well as the particulars of the road. This Divine knowledge is comforting, stimulating, faith-embolding, etc. Such is the inspired portrait of the "happy" or godly man. In contrast we have the "ungodly man." He is like "chaff," without worth, or use, or root; the sport of the wind of circumstances, passions, frivolities, worldliness, sensuality, etc., devoid of true manliness, decision of character, etc. Ver. 5 sets him forth as morally incapacitated to stand in the Court of Justice; and also as morally disqualified to associate with the holy. Both he and his way shall perish.

(J. O. Keen, D. D.)

There is a very beautiful story told of a king who, when he came to his throne a young man, had a silver bell made and placed in a high tower of his palace. Then the announcement was set forth that whenever the king was happy his subjects would know it by the ringing of this bell. It was never to be rung except when the king was perfectly happy, and then by no hand but his own, Days passed into weeks, and weeks into months, and the months into years; but no sound of the bell rang out either day or night to tell that the king was happy. At last the king, grown old and grey in his palace, lay on his death bed. His weeping subjects gathered around him, and he learned how through all the years his people had loved him; and then he was happy, and in his joy, with dying hands, he rang out the silver bell. How many years of wasted happiness because the king did not come to know and appreciate the love of his people! The little story may suggest to us a still greater loss in ourselves. Only the consciousness of God's love can make us perfectly happy. Many people go through life from childhood to youth, from youth to manhood, from manhood to age, and the lines of care deepen in their faces, and the silver bell of happiness never rings out, because all the while they are getting further from God, and there is no consciousness of that Divine love which alone can give perfect happiness and peace to the human heart. We have in this Psalm the thought of a keen-brained and spiritually instructed man as to what is required to make a happy man. We have here the testimony of a man of broad experience. David sets forth, at the beginning, that there are three things which it is important that we shall not do if we are to lead happy lives. The first of these is walking in the counsel of the ungodly. I do not understand that he intended to teach that to come under this head it is necessary for a man to seek out ungodly people and ask their advice as to how he shall live. The danger is far more insidious than that. The trouble is that ungodly people are always ready to speak their counsels of evil and lead others astray by them. Eve did not send for the devil to come and advise her, but he came of his own accord and spit forth his lying sophistries about the Lord. Many young men and women come to the city from Christian homes, expecting to live a frank Christian life; but in the boarding house, or the store or shop where they work, they are thrown into touch with ungodly people, who are ready at every turn with sceptical and insinuating remarks about the Church and about Christianity. Their counsels are for laxity of faith and conduct. Rev. W.L. Watkinson, in a recent sermon, recalls the fact that while we are careful to do our utmost to protect great buildings from fire and tempest, yet all the while those buildings are liable to another peril, certainly not less severe — the subtle decay of the very framework of the structure itself. The tissue of the wood silently and mysteriously deteriorates, and a calamity dire as a conflagration is precipitated. Many people think they are all right because they are not committing outbreaking sins, while the counsels to which they are listening, and the associations to which they are lending themselves, are really undermining all their spiritual strength. The fibre of will and conscience and feeling is secretly eaten away, and some day they awake to find they no longer possess the faith, the sensibility, and the resolution of other days. No swift and violent assault of world or flesh or devil has torn or stained them, but it has been like a moth fretting a garment. In the physical world sunshine is the sure antidote to the dry rot. So the only antidote to the counsels of the ungodly is to turn from them to the beams which fall from the Sun of Righteousness. Prosperous looking trunk. It was strongly made, and, although not very heavy, the speculators who examined its exterior concluded that it contained articles of value. One of them finally secured it for fifty-five dollars, and promptly prised it open, when he found within it only a disjointed human skeleton, which had probably been the property of some medical student. It is easy to understand the chagrin of the purchaser who, instead of gold and jewels, found only those relics of death. Multitudes have experienced a similar disappointment, but one infinitely more sorrowful, when they have discovered the real nature of the prizes which they gained by sin. There is still another place that a man if he will be really happy must avoid, and that is, "the seat of the scornful." God have mercy on the boy who has gone so far that he can make a joke of his mother's religion, that he can make a sneer about his father's God, that he can scorn the voice of God's Word that calls him to repentance! The sarcasm and cynicism and scorn of a sharp wit is often very fascinating to young people, but I assure you that the man who exercises it is never happy. It is a blossom which grows on a tree that is bitter at the heart. I have seen many scornful men and women, but I have never yet seen one who was happy. Well, we have been looking at some of the things one must not do if he is to be happy; let us turn to the brighter side, and see what one may do to ensure happiness. The prescription is given here, and is very plain. "But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night." But, you say, "How can I delight in the law of the Lord, and how can I begin to think about Him, if I am taken up with other things?" It is all very simple. You have been breaking God's law, and therefore you cannot delight in it. Stop breaking it. Turn right about and. begin to obey the law of the Lord, and then you will have a chance to delight in it. God has made happiness and obedience to go together. As you obey the Lord, and as you feel the warmth of His smile on your face, you will take delight in Him. All this is perfectly natural. The man who has committed a crime, and has broken the law of the land, and is fleeing from justice like a hunted animal or has been caught and is being punished, takes no delight in that law. But the man who obeys the law and finds its strong arm of protection thrown around him, and rejoices in its security, delights in it, and in the consciousness of the presence of the law he finds rest and peace And what a glorious result is assured from such delight in the law of the Lord: "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water," etc. What a beautiful picture that is! Ah, but, you say, "Does God live up to that? Do not many Christians have hard experiences, and trying difficulties like other people?" Certainly, the hot sun beats down on the tree planted by the river just the same as it does on the one that is planted on the gravelly, sandy upland. But the one by the river runs its roots down into the refreshing streams beneath, and when the upland tree withers and turns brown the tree by the river is as green as ever. Christians meet the troubles of life like other people, but if they give themselves up whole heartedly to do God's will, and delight in the law of the Lord, they have peace and content in the midst of the sorest trouble. You want happiness. There is only one certain prescription for happiness, and that is to obey God.

(L. A. Banks, D. D.)

The opening words of this Psalm furnish its title Ashrey ha-ish, "O the happiness of that man!" If ever a man pursued happiness under the most favourable conditions, it was King Solomon; yet this was his conclusion of the whole matter, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." John Trapp said quaintly, "The Psalmist hath said here more to the point respecting happiness than all the philosophers; for while they beat the bush, he hath put the bird into our hand."

I. AS TO THE CHARACTER OF THIS HAPPY MAN. "He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly." We must needs be in the world — not dreamers among the shadows, but men among men. The world has need of us. The workshop and the office demand us. The secular cares of this world are, of necessity, upon us. But the secret of true happiness is moral nonconformity. Being in the world, we should not be of it. While our associations must needs be in some measure with the ungodly, their counsels, their ways, their seats are not for us. God's people go to their offices and their workshops just like other men, but their affections are not set upon this world; they are ever mindful of their noble birth, their Divine inheritance, their glorious destiny.

II. HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE DIVINE LAW. The "Law of the Lord" was a Jewish phrase for the Scriptures. The happy man possesses a right estimate of the importance of the Word of God.

1. He is a reader of the Scriptures. Thomas a Kempis said, "I am never so happy as when in a nook with the Book."

2. He reads "with delight." We are much given in these times to a critical study of the Word. The way to appreciate the beauty of Murillo's picture of the Immaculate Conception is not to approach it with spatula and ammonia for purposes of minute analysis, but to gaze upon it until we are filled with the mighty thoughts that went surging through the soul of the master genius who painted it.

3. He meditates in them. St. renders the word "chattereth." So in these spring days we hear the sparrows chattering with their hearts full of the prophecy of bloom and fruitfulness. So glad and happy are the souls that meditate with delight in the Divine law.

III. THE OUTCOME OF THIS HAPPY LIFE. Fruitfulness. "Like a tree." This life is rooted well. Its leaf shall not wither. The leaf shows the character of the tree. The man whose soul is full of truth and righteousness need not be saying perpetually, "I am a Christian," for his walk and conversation declare it. He bringeth forth fruit in his season. We shall be ever doing good as we have opportunity. There is an obverse to this picture. "The ungodly are not so."

1. As to his life — it is chaff. There is no profit in it.

2. As to his death — it is like a furrow in the sea.

3. After death, he shall "not stand in judgment." Most of us have been disappointed in our pursuit of happiness. There is, however, a right way and a sure way to pursue it.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

Monday Club Sermons.
I. A STRIKING DESCRIPTION OF THE CHARACTER OF THE RIGHTEOUS. Among the evil, as well as the good, there are classes and gradations. Here we have forgetters of God, overt and habitual sinners, and settled scorners. How graphically is the progressive tendency of sin here exhibited! Observe the indication we here have of the tendency of sin to fixedness. Walking, standing, sitting; wrong principles, then sinful habits, and last settled scorn. But the righteous man is not simply one who keeps aloof from the ways described. His character has its positive side. It is needful to discriminate with respect to the kind of delight the righteous man takes in the law. How much there is in the Bible of valuable history! Its truths and precepts kindle the intellect, feed the imagination, and commend themselves to man's natural sense of what is true and good. The delight of the Psalmist is, however, something deeper and other than this. It is delight in the law as God's law, and because it is His. It is the delight of a mind in sympathetic accord with it and with its Author. Even in the Old Testament saint there was much of this spirit. Here is the difference between a truly righteous man and one who is only outwardly so. The latter obeys slavishly, and against his own will. The former serves joyfully, and in love. The interest the one takes in the Bible is intellectual; that of the other is also practical and spiritual.

II. A DELIGHTFUL PICTURE OF THE CONDITION OF THE RIGHTEOUS. "Like a tree." The tree draws a portion of its nourishment from the surrounding atmosphere, but relatively this is small. Vastly the greater portion is taken up with the moisture at its root. Hence where there is little moisture the life of the tree is feeble, its growth is slow, its fruit is uncertain, its leaf withers. So it is doubtless true that the godly man derives material for growth, usefulness, enjoyment, and moral beauty from whatever surrounds him. He learns from nature, society, books; he derives profit and adornment from studies, companionship, and experience; but for that which is highest and best, whether of comfort, attainment, or serviceableness to his generation, he is indebted to revealed truth. It is this which sustains his true inner life. In ver. 3 there is a change of figure. Of the righteous it is said, "and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." The meaning doubtless is that he shall prosper in all his godly doings; in the things to which the Divine will and word may prompt him; in 'those righteous undertakings by which he is distinguished. In other ages, if not now, it shall appear that nought of such labour was lost. It would be a mistake to understand, by the fruit here spoken of, external works only, or chiefly. The fruit of the spirit is "in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth." It is "love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." First of all, it is inward, then outward. It would be equally a mistake to suppose that the leaf, which does not wither, is the symbol only of the honour and beauty which crown the character of the godly. Doubtless it stands for this. But the leaf is also useful. And that, too, not only in the pleasure it ministers to the beholder's eye, or the shade it affords to the passing traveller. Its benefits may reach very far. "The fresh air we quaff from the hills has been purified and made healthy for us by the foliage of the trees, not merely those of our own country, but even the pines of Norway and the palms of India." And so the godly man is blessed in what he is and what he does.

III. A CHEERING INTIMATION OF THE HAPPY END WHICH AWAITS THE RIGHTEOUS. As is so often the case in the Bible, thought abruptly passes from time to eternity. Indeed, to the eye of faith, these are one: the latter is but the continuation of the former. Naturally, therefore, the characters contrasted in the Psalm are now made to appear for judgment.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

Notes on verses.Ver. 1. Ignorance is often bliss. All the characters mentioned here may have their excellence. The ungodly may be rich, the sinners convivial, the scornful brilliant, yet blessed is the man that has nothing to do with them. Blessed is the man who knows not the language or the masonry of the wicked.Ver. 2. The idea is that of the man who sees the law of the Lord in all nature, history, and life, and delights to trace it out. The "Law of the Lord" is Lot simply so much letter press, it is a life, a presence, a government.Ver. 3. Where God is there is no famine. The likeness to a tree is full of suggestion. A tree is permanent, fruitful, beautiful; its branches are for refreshment, its shadow is for rest. It responds to the sun and the rain. It waits for God, and puts forth life at His bidding. "Prosper." In no mean or narrow sense, but really and ultimately If you say that, as a fact, the good man does not always prosper, remember that you may say the same thing about God Himself.Ver. 4. Some ungodly men seem to be well established; they have more than heart can wish. But these are appearances only. At a distance chaff might be mistaken for wheat. The distinction is a vital one. To know where the wicked are, you must know where the wind is — the wind of popularity, success, Divine visitation.Ver. 5. There is a judgment, a true and final test of character. Where are the ungodly of the last generation?Ver. 6. Mark the three characters. The godly, ungodly, the Lord. The question is not what is the relation of the godly and the ungodly to each other; but what is that of each to the Lord? Are you blessed? Are you merely transiently happy? What is your fruit?

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

1. He is partly described by negatives. We begin with children by teaching them what they must not do. The man who "walketh in the counsel of the ungodly" is not a happy man. Nowhere in the devil's territories can you find the happy man. Men who have run the whole round of so called enjoyment unite to say, "If you want to be happy, avoid our footprints." And yet it seems as if every young man must go and try for himself. He will not take the experience of others; or follow the directions of the "caution board."

2. He is partly described by what he should do. God does not destroy our powers, but turns them in a right direction. How can we be happy? Study. He who thinks grows. Meditate in the "Law of the Lord." We are not a Bible reading people. The old-fashioned people in the Church were. Note the consequences of this "delight in the Law of the Lord." Beauty. Righteous men should have beauty of character. "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." When we fail the fault is ours, or if it be not, then the failure is for the sake of the success it shall lead to. "The ungodly are not so." The sinner has a brief day. It may not seem so now; but God says, he is "like the chaff." But we should not seek happiness as an end. Seek goodness, and the happiness will come.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

Expository Outlines.
I. A CERTAIN COURSE DESCRIBED. Here is a two-fold gradation implied, the one relating to the characters referred to, and the other to the intercourse maintained.

II. A SACRED EXERCISE DESCRIBED. "In His law doth he meditate." The godly man delights in the Law of the Lord for many reasons.

1. Because it enriches his mind.

2. It cheers his heart.

3. It sanctifies his nature.

III. AN ENCOURAGING ASSURANCE GIVEN. "He shall be like a tree." Note the connection between loving the Scriptures and spiritual prosperity.

IV. A SOLEMN CONTRAST DRAWN. The ungodly are like the chaff. Chaff is a thing that is —

1. Unsightly. There is nothing to excite pleasurable emotions in the ungodly.

2. Worthless. Chaff cannot be turned, even in our inventive age, to any beneficial purpose.

3. Light and unsubstantial. There is no stability in the ungodly. They are tossed to and fro with every wind of temptation; and, being influenced by caprice rather than principle, no confidence can be placed in them. The Psalmist adds, "therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment." To "stand" is a forensic term, and denotes "to stand acquitted," and with those who live and die ungodly such cannot be the case.

V. A CONCLUSIVE REASON ADDUCED. "For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish."

(Expository Outlines.)

But negatives in this case could not be denied; for if he had left out negatives, he had left out a great part of the worth and praise of godliness — for a godly man cannot always run in smooth ground — he shall sometimes meet with rubs; he cannot always breathe in sweet airs — he shall sometimes meet with ill savours; he cannot always sail in safe seas — he shall sometimes meet with rocks; and then it is his praise that he can pass over those rubs, can pass through those savours, can pass by those rocks, and yet keep himself upright and untainted, and untouched of them all. Besides, negative precepts are in some cases more absolute and peremptory than affirmatives: for to say, "That hath walked in the counsel of the ungodly," might not be sufficient; for he might walk in the counsel of the godly, and yet walk in the counsel of the ungodly too; not both indeed at once, but both at several times; where now this negative clears him at all times. And may it not also be a cause of using negatives, because it seems an easier way of showing what a thing is, by showing what it is not, than by using only affirmative marks; especially where a perfect induction may be made.

(Sir Richard Baker.)

We must yet go further, and the next word we come to is ungodly, and now certainly we shall have a full negative, for ungodliness is the herb that marreth all the broth, it poisons all the company that it comes in, — not only walking, a thing in itself indifferent, but even counsel, a thing in its own nature most sovereign: they are both marred by this one ingredient of ungodliness. Walking in counsel had been a safe proceeding, if the ungodly had not given it; standing in the way had been a lawful calling, it' sinners had not made it; sitting in a chair had been an easy posture, if scorners had not framed it; but if the ungodly, or sinners, or scorners have any hand at all in our actions, have anything to do in our doings, both safety, and lawfulness, and ease, and all are utterly overthrown.

(Sir Richard Baker.)

But have, then, ungodly men counsel? One would think it were want of counsel that makes them ungodly, for who would be ungodly if he had counsel to direct him? Certainly, counsel they have, and wise counsel too; that is, wise in the eye of the world, and wise for the works of the world: but wise in the sight of God, and wise for the works of godliness, they have not; and in that kind of wisdom ungodly men are your greatest counsellors — greatest in the ability of counsel, and greatest in the busying themselves with counselling. The poison of asps is under their lips. It serves not their turn to do wickedly in their own persons, but they must be drawing others into wickedness by poisoning and infecting them with wicked counsel.

(Sir Richard Baker.)

They which think it an ascent, conceive it thus, that he which walketh in the counsel of the ungodly is yet but wavering, as misled by opinion, and makes but an error; he that stands in the way of sinners, stands out with obstinacy, and makes a heresy; but he that sits in the chair of scorners is at defiance with God, and makes an apostasy. They who think it a descent do thus conceive it: he which walks in the counsel of the ungodly, delights and takes a pleasure in his sin; he which stands in the way of sinners, stands in doubt, and is unresolved in his sin; but he who sits in the seat of the scornful, sits down and sins but for his ease, as being unable to suffer persecution. They who think it an ascent, conceive that the ungodly are but beginners in ill; that sinners are proficients in ill; but the scorners are graduates and doctors of the chair in ill. They who think it a descent, conceive that the ungodly are opposite to the godly, and offend generally; that sinners offend, though actually, yet but in particulars; that scorners might be sound at heart, if they did not set themselves to sale, and sin for promotion. The ascent may be briefly thus: that walking expresseth less resolution than standing, and standing than sitting, but in sin, the more resolute, the more dissolute therefore sitting is the worst. The descent thus: that walking expresseth more strength than standing, and standing than sitting; for a child can sit when he cannot stand, and stand when he cannot walk; but the stronger in sin, the worse; therefore walking is the worst. Many such ways there are of conceiving diversity, either in ascending or descending; but it needs be no question which is the worse, because, without question, they are all stark nought: they are three rocks, whereof the least is enough to make a shipwreck; they are three pestilential airs, whereof the best is enough to poison the heart. This only may be observed, that howsoever the case alter with walkers and sitters, yet standers in the way of sinners keep their standing still; and whichsoever is first or last, yet they are sure to be the second. But is it not that we mistake the Prophet, and make his words a gradation, when, perhaps, he meant them for level ground? And for such, indeed, we may take them, and do as well, and then there will not be either ascent or descent in the sins themselves, but only a diversity in their causes; as that the first is a sin caused by ill counsel; the second, a sin caused by ill example; the third, a sin caused by the innate corruption of our own hearts. Or is it that the Prophet alludes here to the three principal ages of our life, which have every one of them their proper vices, as it were, retainers to them? — and therefore the vices of youth, which is the vigour of life, and delights most in motion and society, he expresseth by walking in the counsel of the ungodly; the vices of the middle age, which is the steadfast age, he expresseth by standing in the way of sinners; the vices of old age, which, being weak and feeble, is scarce able to go, he expresseth by sitting in the chair of scorners, and it is as if he had said, "Blessed is the man that hath passed through all the ages of his life, and hath kept himself untainted of the vices that are incident unto them."

(Sir Richard Baker.)

But a godly man is wiser than so; though he know that the way is large and broad, yet he knows also that the press is great; a man cannot stand here, but he shall be shouldered and thrust forward in spite of his teeth.

(Sir Richard Baker.)

Walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.
We are all of us naturally of such a social tendency that the influence of companionship is necessarily great. And this is so especially in youth. Moralists, like Cicero, have made friendship the theme of some of their purest teaching and counsel. Scripture tells us of Jonathan and David, and this Psalm gives a hint of the insidious gradations by which companionship attains its mastery over habit and character. Like a skilful angler "playing" a fish, so does a congenial associate attach us to his company. He draws the glamour of his power about us, till we become wholly his. At first we meet him from time to time, "walking in his counsels"; then we protract the interview, and invite ascendency as we "stand in his way"; and at length we capitulate to his domination as we "sit down in his seat." Now, if it be good to resist such influence in the case of the ungodly, it is equally good to yield to it in the case of the upright. Nothing more important than the choice of associates. Avoid such as —

I. DESIRE YOU RATHER AS THEIR PREY THAN THEIR FRIEND. They protest vehement friendship; there is nothing they will not do for you; all that they have is at your service. These are not safe men who overact their part in this way.

II. THE FOP AND ROUÉ. The plucking of pigeons has been an art studied and perfected by knaves of fashion in every age, and has flung filth upon escutcheons which had known no shame, and blasted many a prospect of a noble future.

III. THE EXTRAVAGANT. We find it easy to declare that poverty is no disgrace; yet it is rare to find amongst the young the moral hardihood which can say, "I can't afford it." In humbler life it is by tens of thousands, not by ones or twos, that you may count the well born and the well trained who have fallen, some into suicide, some into prisons, some to the gallows, all into disgrace by becoming companions of those who have tempted them into extravagance.

IV. BETTING MEN. The slowly rising pittance of the clerk will not let him keep pace with the expensive pleasures of his rich associate, and fraud and forgery are led up to by the sure pathway of the betting ring.

V. THE FLATTERER, the sponge, who desires only to exhaust your purse. The cynic too. He is a flatterer who has established his ascendency so completely that he can afford to be rude. You cannot make a friend of a bully.

VI. AND LET BOTH YOUNG MEN AND MAIDENS BE VERY CAREFUL OF THE COMPANIONSHIPS WHICH THEY FORM, ONE WITH THE OTHER. A young man will do well who makes an honourable union the goal of his industry; and let her whose troth is challenged have nought to do with one whose life is stained with an unmanly taint. Choose Christian friendships, for companionship is the leaven of our lives and solitude their bane. But there is no solitude to him who has learned to cancel it with pure thought and spiritual communion. Healthy literature, taste, art, music, come with votive offerings to him who lingers by their chastened altars. But the best friendship is that of those whose Master is Christ. When the disciples were let go they went to their own company. Go you to yours, and let it be the company which gathers round the Lord.

(Arthur Mursell.)

Like the Sermon on the Mount, this description of the way of the righteous begins with a "blessed." Those who go down into the busy streets day by day are in constant contact with those who are without God in the world. Not necessarily bad men in the common phrase, but possibly high-minded, free-hearted, companion. able men, who yet have left God out of their lives. They do nothing to please Him. A part of the testing of our characters comes out in the fact that we do not always know we are walking in the counsel of the ungodly when we are really doing so. It is a hard tiring not to adopt the way in which people around us look at things, and the way of looking at things accounts in large measure for what we do. An atmosphere, intangible and still real, is thrown around all characters, and the moment we come into this atmosphere it affects us. If it is the atmosphere of prayer, and faith, and high endeavour, we feel without realising it, even when nothing is said to show the trend of thought. "Nor standeth in the way of sinners." We note the advance in wrong. "Sinners" is a stronger characterisation of bad associates than the phrase "ungodly," and "standing" is a more thorough committal to them than "walking." It implies more deliberation. Naturally, he who stands with sinners and gives his leisure to their friendship is fast reaching the day when he will sit with the scorners. What makes the scorner the worst case to reform? It is because a radical change has come over him, and evil has become his good. Embittered against the way which he has lost, he makes virtue a mockery. One who is in daily association with evil may not realise the loss he is meeting, may not see the bloom fade from the ripe peach, or from the hanging cluster of grapes, but the scorner is in a hell of his own. He has lost the childhood of the heart to which he must come back before he can see and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Coming to the positive marks of the way of the righteous, we find that he delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates upon it day and night. This marks a high and almost perfect stage of moral attainment, and creates a certain loveableness in its possessor which a mere determination to do right never can do. We love those who love to do right and sing in the ways of the Lord, whose moral movements are not the working of bands and pulleys, but the curves of the bird in the free air or the bending of the tender grasses under the breeze. Effort pains us, but ease charms us. What a rare and wonderful thing it is to find joy in a rule — the law of God. We must get the law into the heart and say it without thinking, and live it by a second nature. And never since the Bible was given to men has there been so much study upon its form and details. Is there a corresponding "meditation" upon it? Meditation is to thought and study what autumn is to summer — the ripe fruitage of past toil.

(E. N. Packard.)

Homiletic Review.
I. THREE CLASSES OF TRANSGRESSORS. Shun them!

1. Ungodly. — Generally those who are

(a)ignorant of God,

(b)deny, or

(c)defy God. Here means restless people.

2. Sinners. — The restless missing his way.

3. Scorners. — Mockers, pests, impostors (Psalm 26:4-9).

II. THREE INDUCEMENTS TO TRANSGRESS. Resist them.

1. Counsel. — Flattering and deceptive. Satan in Eden and the wilderness.

2. Way. — Broad and attractive (Matthew 7:13, 14).

3. Seat. — Boisterous and popular. "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."

III. THREE DEGREES OF TRANSGRESSION. Avoid them!

1. Walking. — Initiatory.

2. Standing. — Secondary.

3. Sitting. — Grand Lodge degree in iniquity.The way of transgressors is hard (Proverbs 4:14-18). "Wherefore come out from among them" (2 Corinthians 6:17).

(Homiletic Review.)

To make my meaning clearer, suppose a person steps out of pure air into a rather close room: the air is at first disagreeable and oppressive, he does not breathe freely, but in a little while he gets more used to it, and after a while he hardly is aware that the room is close, and that he is breathing impure air. Suppose also that then he goes into another room, which is much closer, the air of it much more impure: it will not seem to him, coming as he does from the first room, to be worse than the first room seemed when he came from the pure air. This just describes the way in which the man who is beginning to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, allowing himself to be influenced by them, soon learns to breathe at ease in an ungodly atmosphere. Probably his conscience is uneasy as he steps from his place of safety, but he soon accustoms himself to his new position, and then he is ready for the next step, and there is every prospect of his taking it.

Nor standeth in the way of sinners
I. THE INFECTIOUS NATURE OF SIN, and the danger of walking in the counsel of the ungodly. These warnings have been so often repeated and are now commonplace, not because they are unimportant, but because the good and wise of all ages have felt the necessity of them.

1. We are all prone to sin.

2. And the young are ignorant and unsuspicious.

3. Vice is usually baited with pleasure.

4. The difficulty of bearing ridicule, which in corrupt society the young are exposed to.

II. THE HARDENING NATURE OF SIN.

1. Its progress is gradual and insensible.

2. The strength and power of inveterate habit.

III. THE FINISHING STAGE OF WICKEDNESS. To be of the scornful. On which note —

1. The sin and danger of it to the scornful themselves. It is an audacious attack upon the majesty of the living God, and must strike every thinking person with horror. And this is not a sudden sin, but deliberate. Such contempt of sacred things shows an entire victory over conscience: all reluctance is gone. Also, over shame, and they design to destroy it in the minds of others.

2. Its sad influence. For it is public and intended to be so. It is an open advocacy of sin and an endeavour to break the restraints of conscience in others as well as themselves. Its malignant influence is seen in the fear that most persons have in opposing fashionable crimes. It lays hold on some human weakness that has been accidentally associated with religion, and ridicules religion as if it also were weak. was certainly the wisest and best of the men of Greece. His behaviour was such as demanded the esteem of all who knew him; yet was this worthy man successfully turned into ridicule by one whose writings are to the last degree contemptible. But yet this ridicule paved the way for the enmity which was raised against him, and which brought him to death. So ridicule often slays religion in the soul. Therefore let the young beware of evil company. Let parents strive to train their children in religion, and let all Christian men stand up boldly against profanity and vice and deal with these sins as they deserve.

(J. Witherspoon, D. D.)

False friendship is like the gaudy but scentless sunflower, that will bloom only in the sunshine of prosperity. True friendship, planted in mutual love and nourished by Christian principles, is like the sweet but modest violet that will flourish even in the dark shade of adversity, and will yield only fresh odours when trampled on by unkindly tread.

(R. Venting.)

The unhappy bids to associate with the profane arise from two causes.

1. That rigorousness and austerity which some gloomy-minded Christians attach to their religion. God and nature have established no connection between sanctity of character and severity of manners. To rejoice evermore is not only the privilege, it is also the duty of a Christian. The votaries of vice put on the mask of mirth, they counterfeit gladness amidst the horrors of guilt.

2. The opinion that wickedness, particularly some kinds of it, are manly and becoming; that dissoluteness, infidelity, and blasphemy are indications of a sprightly and a strong mind. Those who have shone in all ages as the lights of the world, with a few exceptions, have been uniformly on the side of goodness, and have been as distinguished in the temple of virtue as they were illustrious in the temple of fame.

(J. Logan.)

Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Sir Walter Scott near the end of his life said, "I have been the most voluminous author of the day. It is a comfort to me to think that I have tried to unsettle no man's faith, to corrupt no man's principles."

(Quiver.)

As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool, and he is a poor invertebrate creature who allows himself to be laughed down when he attempts to stick to his principles and tries to do what he believes to be right. "Learn from the earliest days," says Sydney Smith, "to insure your principles against the perils of ridicule; you can no more exercise your reason if you live in the constant dread of laughter, than you can enjoy your life if you are in constant terror of death. No coward is greater than he who dares not to be wise because fools will laugh at him."

(Quiver.)

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